Poetic Mindfulness: “Now is the Time”

“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, You owe me. Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.” – Hafiz

The truth is, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by poetry. I use the word intimidated because the emotions that certain poems tend to stir up leave me feeling… that’s just it, I’m still not quite sure. The experience of being unsure how to describe my internal experience ‘just right,’ in the face of poems that speak to me most ardently is nothing new. This response tells me that this may be an experience worth examining… so, where to begin?

From this clumsy place of ‘not knowing,’ I try to comfort myself with the reminder that a fundamental function of emotions is to provide information. Just as I sense relief at feeling some semblance of ‘knowing,’ I recognize that when met with poetry that touches my spirit, the paucity of my emotional lexicon is unsettling. This sense of dumbfoundedness, tinged with humility, leaves me seeking further exploration. Have you ever found yourself struck by an inexplicable emotional reaction that seems to speak to you in a profound, yet presently inexplicable, way? I imagine many of us have a somewhat similar experience.

Now is the Time

The poem Now is the Time by Hafiz (or Hafez) – merely by its title alone – seems rather obviously related to mindfulness and the present moment. I find this poem rather hauntingly intoxicating in its gentle, wise, and resolute suggestion that the reader take authentic pause in the present moment. I find his words to be rife with solemn, yet compassionate, truth… encouraging the importance of merely considering making a “lasting truce with yourself and God” in this moment. If the notion of God does not fit with your personal belief system, it can be just as meaningful to assign any other word or entity that you connect with as an unseen force or phenomenon beyond the present realm of human understanding.

Hafiz posits that “now is the time to understand that all your ideas of right and wrong were just a child’s training wheels to be laid aside when you finally live with veracity and love.” The notion of setting aside our ideas of right and wrong may feel threatening, or even unnecessary. After all, many of us espouse the ‘obvious’ nature of right and wrong… and who am I to say it isn’t obvious? I will say that I do not know for sure. I encourage you, if you don’t feel comfortable with this idea, to embrace the vicissitudes between feeling that you know or don’t know… to not let the contrasts frighten you. Consider the possibility that these contrasts are representative of the full spectrum of our lived experience, with the bulk of our lived experience residing somewhere in between.

What aspects of your own life bring up physical, mental, or emotional tension as a result of discomfort with the unknown? See if you notice some of your habitual ways of reacting to any discomforts associated with the unknowns in your life. Perhaps you tend to shut down and block things out, maybe you self-medicate or numb the tensions with drugs or alcohol, or perhaps you find yourself dwelling in an uncomfortable emotional state. Once we become truly aware of our own tendencies – no matter how uncomfortable that awareness may feel – we have the opportunity to continue down the same path, or change course. Remember, even the subtlest of changes can result in a dramatically different journey and ultimate destination.

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 Featured image: amazing grace by Ed Schipul / CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

About Laura K. Schenck, Ph.D., LPC

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. Some of my academic interests include: Dialectical Behavior Therapy, mindfulness, stress reduction, work/life balance, mood disorders, identity development, supervision & training, and self-care.

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